Sunday, November 24, 2013

The thong and the short of it

Hey flippers, how you flopping?

So this is probably the last blog post I'll be able to do before you'll hopefully come see my work in the Honours V.C.A Grad Show. The opening is tomorrow night from 6-8, and then the show's open every day for a week from 11am to 5pm. Please come!

My work is on the second level of the main painting building. Depending on how well you know the VCA you might know the space called "The Cage", but if not it's just directly to the left when you walk out of the lift.

Anyway so because this might be my last chance to talk to you before you see the show I wanna try and quickly explain a little about some of my work that's in it, so that when hopefully you see it you'll have a little bit of an understanding as to what's going on.

One piece in the show is a sculpture of a Nikon d90 DSLR camera, it's the same camera that for at least 12 months never left my side as I lugged it around and completed taking a photo of my petrol station every day for a year.

Another piece is my sculpture of a calculator. 

It's titled Magic, which is how I felt when my friend Tom, or Mot, as he called himself then, showed our class that turning a calculator upside could reveal an important secret message.
Magic. Acrylic on ceramic. 8 x 12 x 1.5cm. 2013

For weeks I've been undecided about whether the numbers on the calculator should read 5318008 or 55378008. Boo be or not Boo be, that was the question. In the end I decided that 5318008 is a much more joyous number, and if Matisse can be joyful then so can I. Plus personally it's the number I remember typing in when I was in primary school. 

Anyway, Magic is part of series of works that are trying to be text pieces without explicitly being text pieces.

Another piece in the show involves a taxidermied rat. I taxidermied it myself using tutorials from the internet. 

I'd always wanted to try taxidermy and yes, it was really tricky and really yucky. 
I never realised how large rats genitals are, ha, and I think I was happier not knowing about it.
Also in the Grad Show is my 182 People Blinking at a Blink 182 concert, in which earlier this year, as the title suggests, I went to a Blink 182 concert and asked 182 people to blink on camera. It was exhausting. 

And another piece on show is a sculpture of a Shape, (the biscuit).

Originally the Shape was a companion piece to the painting below, but I decided the painting below wasn't right for this show and that I think maybe in this context the sculpture is stronger by itself.
Get in Shape. Acrylic on canvas. 2013. 

I'll write more about all those works, plus all the other works I haven't mentioned yet, another time, but for now the main piece I wanna talk about in this blog post is titled Thongs

They're acrylic on ceramic, and the exact dimensions of a size 10 mens thong.
Here they are next to my feet.
And here they are next to my feet wearing the pair of thongs they were based on.
With works like this, one of the questions that comes up a lot is whether my intention is to criticise or celebrate the subject matter.

I guess my answer to this is neither; I'm not intending to criticise nor celebrate the Australian flag thongs, instead I was simply drawn to them as an object because they are a symbol that is so easily both criticised and celebrated.

There’s a tension in the casualness of wearing a flag like a logo or a football team, but at the same time though my brother owns a pair of these thongs and he doesn’t even think they’re funny; he just bought them because he was at K-Mart and needed some thongs to wear to the beach. 

So on one persons feet the thongs are patriotic, and on someone else's they might be racist. But there's a third option, as in the case of my brother; on some peoples feet they're just thongs. The kind of thing your Dad would wear because they're practical and who cares.

I guess what I like about the Australian flag thongs is that I can think about them all day long and still not make up my mind about them. It's the same reason why I've made work about the Bill Henson controversy, and more recently the Paul Yore controversy.

A similar example I've been thinking about is the Richard Bell artist talk I went to earlier this year. It’s almost hilarious the way Bell can spend forty minutes telling a room full of white Australians how bad white Australians are and at the end of the talk all the white Australians stand and applaud. 

It makes sense obviously and I get it completely, but there’s something about the guilt and the shame that I don't know what to do with and it's hard to get your head around. 

After the talk I asked Richard Bell if he wouldn't mind autographing a "PAINT YOUR OWN BOOMERANG" that I'd bought from a souvenir store, (click here to read my post about it)

I really don't know what I was trying to say with that gesture, but when Bell laughed loudly and called his models over for a photo with us, I think he understood.
Ultimately the Richard Bell PAINT YOUR OWN BOOMERANG work didn't resolve any of the questions that it raised. Of course not, how could it?

The great Italian contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan says that Deconstructing a work doesn’t make you understand it. It probably makes you more confused.” 

I agree with Cattelan when he explains that an idea only works when he can continue to think about it but “doesn’t get tired of it”. And for me I think that's my aim for what's going on with my sculpture of these Australian flag thongs.

I don't know though, maybe I'm just making a big thong and dance about nothing.

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